Category: Relationships

Hashtag, Fear of Rejection

The coffee shop rocks some stellar music this morning.  1901 by Phoenix blasts through the speakers as I sit in the back corner watching the locals swing through and converse around the shop.  The Sit and Stay Café houses a bookshelf where patrons can exchange reading material.  There are piles of old books and ironic literature.  “Tears of the Giraffe” stands out as I turn to the lady next to me and she calls out, “Excuse me?”  She asks me if I know which coffee is the best?  I look up from The Orange County Register and lean slightly forward to suggest the one on the far right.  After she fills her mug, she swings back to her seat and we begin to engage in conversation.  She is a delightful older woman with a southern accent and bright blue eyes.  She tells me that she is from Texas and visiting her daughter and son-in-law here in sunny California.  She talks about seeing her grandchildren and how excited she is to spend time with them.  I smile back, ask questions, and express admiration for the exchange that took place.  I get back to my breakfast sandwich and black coffee as I sift through the newspaper.  I watch as two young girls take a photo and discuss uploading it to Instagram.  This leads me to immediately think of hashtags, which leads me to think of texting.  Then, I am reminded of a time when passing notes was cool.  In school when you wanted to elicit the attention of a friend or chat, you had to pass a note.  I recall intricate folding and the rush of passing it so the teacher wouldn’t see.  A thrill in its own right.



A friend and I reminisced about dial-up the other day.  She recalled her parents having to get two phone lines because you could not use the internet and be on the phone at the same time.  There was a time when we still had to be patient.  The lady in the coffee shop was in her 60s, nearly 30 years older than me and these girls were probably around 15, so about half the age gap.  I feel slightly removed from social engagement via app.  What happen to conversing in the coffee shop or asking a stranger a question or engaging in a conversation?  I will tell you what happen. #facebook #instagram #snapchap #socialmedia.  All of this seems to be causing something more than just a lack of communication.  It causes a lack of thrill, a lack of adrenaline, and a lack of excitement.  We are tagging photos and selfies everywhere we go.  We want to project happiness without truly understanding what it takes to grasp it. There is no grace for messes.  We are gaining more control and causing more anxiety in a world where letting go and learning how to handle change are very important.  We online date as a result of the downfall of present and personal communication.  We become neurotic. We become impatient.  The lyrics of 1901 still play.  “Watch them build up a material tower. Think it’s not going to stay anyway. Think it’s overrated.”  The dynamics of human relationships have not changed much in those 45 years from the teens I see to the older woman I speak with, but so much has changed in our means of communication.

I am proposing that ten years ago, we knew how to balance lack of control in life and bounce back from change.  Are we creating a generation so in control that the slightest change will cause fear?  We used to have to wait for a boy or girl to write back or tell the friend if they liked us back; rejection built character.  Now we swipe to the left and the fear of rejection is gone.  Lack of fear or other human emotions causes us to gain more control.  The more control we think we have, the less we actually do.  Anxieties and fears have to be dealt with.  In order to be dealt with, they have to be created.


What’s Love Got to Do With It

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Today is that day.  It’s the day that people exchange gifts, cards, flowers, candies, and cute and cuddly teddy bears.  Today is the day that third grade boy buys his first Valentine’s Day gift for his sweetheart.  He mulls over the aisles at the local Target looking for the perfect way to tell his first crush that he thinks she is special.  It is the day that he gets butterflies in his stomach, hoping that he makes the right decision.  It is the day that she waits for his call and lights up when she hears his voice on the other end.

It is also a day of cynics.  It is a day where the jaded remind us that we are crazy and they are single.  It is the day that eyes roll and people scoff.  But why?  I understand if you are displeased with the commercialization of the Holiday, but the same can be said for many Holidays today.  So why so much hate for VD?  I mean, it’s a day to celebrate Love.  The cynical and jaded make the single assumption that not having a romantic interest on this Day of Hearts makes it a painful reminder that we are single.  But what does being single have to do with it?  This day is about Love.  That love is also shared amongst family members and friends.  We share in love with our children and remind them that they are special.  When I was little my father used to get my sisters and I all chocolates.  Maybe my outlook on this adorable day is a direct product of the idea that it was about family and not romance.  Love has everything to do with it.

The history of Valentine’s Day has to do with a Christian Martyr that got into trouble for marrying couples.  That background is probably responsible for making Valentine’s Day associated with love and romance.  In a time when lovers couldn’t marry, they were fighting the ability to do so.  Appears we are always fighting against something.  So you cynical singles fight the good fight, only 16 more hours left to go.  As for the rest of us, smile, cuddle, and tell them you love them.

To Prenuptial or Not to Prenuptial

To prenup or not to prenup?  That is the question.  In the local coffee shop, I watch today as an older man discusses this topic with a group of friends.  His sober face suggests that this topic is one of emotional passion.  The man states that he would not sign a prenup and he “would rather have her take him for a ride.”  From what I gather, he believes that if you really love someone, you should not have to sign an agreement of how things will be divided up if you separate.  I have heard this reaction from many people; the prenuptial gives us a way out of the marriage.  Doors also give us a way out, but we don’t go building houses without them.

So is he right or wrong?  Now, I am not in the business of marriage legalities, in fact, as a professor of mine once put it, I am an MFT – Marriage Friendly Therapist.  I work together with couples to help them happily stay together.  However, that means a lot of surrendering to our faults and giving in to someone else’s needs, i.e. our partner.  Most of the time when couples are ready to divorce there has been years of unheard words, unmet expectations, and lack of overall happiness. (Check out this article: When Women Divorce Long Before The Divorce by Quentin Hafner.)

In my life I have had three different views on prenuptials:

The first (early 20’s): That if you truly love someone, you don’t need to sign an “out”contract.

The second (late 20’s): After getting out of a bad business deal with a co-owned restaurant; not having any concrete contracts signed, I felt that you always need a contract no matter what.  I got along with my business partner so I always thought a split would be amicable.  It is true that in the mist of a fight the claws come out.  Marriage is the contract and the prenup is there to protect that asset.

The last (early 30’s):  Premarital therapy.  By-yearly check-ups with the therapist.  I would sign a reverse prenuptial (see below).  In the long run I want a partner that is as happy and silly as I am; we will be adults when it comes to decisions, for better or worse.

Obviously, to make a prenup or not to make one, is up to the discretion of the couple.  Consider this when thinking about the issues:

1. There is a lot of legal advice on the internet about signing prenuptials.  What about other experts on relationships and how they discuss navigating this part of a marriage?

2. Discussion of a prenup needs to be gently entered into.  It needs to be a conversation of understanding and compassion.   Most prenuptials are entered into for protection of the property or assets that one comes into the marriage with.  If you are marrying someone who believes they are owed something you had prior to meeting them, I think a prenuptial is the last of your worries.

3.  If you are not willing to share certain things or benefits you accumulated while in the marriage, whatever that looks like,  you should not get married.  You are a selfish person. Truly selfish people will be unhappy in a marriage.  When you force a kid to share and he doesn’t want to, he will likely throw a tantrum after handing over the toy.  Marry the man or woman who finds joy in sharing with others.  It will make a world of difference in all aspects of the marriage.

4. Over the course of the years of marriage you both make equal sacrifices and you should decide what that is going to look like prior to getting married.  You may be the sole source of retirement and insurance, but your partner might bring in more money each year.  Or your partner might stay at home to with three kids until school age and take care of house work.  At the end of the day it isn’t all about money and assets.  We have to take into consideration the acts of service and the sacrifices.

5. If your prenup has to include things like the religion that your children will be raised, well then, stop right there.  You aren’t putting exacts in the prenup because at the end of the day it doesn’t matter anyways.  If your partner becomes Buddhist in ten years and wants to share some of that wisdom with the children, you don’t pull out the prenup and say – Right here, look this is what we agreed.   People change and you should marry someone who is open to change and that is willing to meet you where you are and go places you feel a need to explore.  You should marry someone who you have similar values with, but nothing in life guarantees that down that road that is going to look the same.

After Much Research on The Topic: Try These

The Reverse Prenuptial

Going back to the analogy of the door. It gives us a way out, but it also keeps us in.  It is a fire escape and a barrier to keep unwanted guests out.  It serves two purposes.  What if our prenuptials started doing the same?  Say that one partner comes into the marriage with a boat, the other does not.  The prenuptial reads that if divorced in the course of the first 15 years, the boat will be sold and the sale split.  However, after 15 years, the asset is given to the rightful owner in full.


Yes, therapy.  You are going to be making an appointment with a lawyer to get out of the marriage.  The lawyer doesn’t have an understanding of what makes marriages and relationships work.  He has a law degree and an objective for divorce.  Seek a therapist out to discuss why you are thinking about divorce; gain help from someone who has experience in the area of relationships, not law.  Trust people who work within their scope.  Your lawyer has little interest in your overall well-being.

Overall the conversation of the prenuptial should be one of grace and compassion.  Be comfortable and open to the opinion of your partner.

America is Lazy and Conscious Uncoupling is Bullshit

As a relationship blogger I’ve come to realize the masses of material around me. I sit in a coffee shop that I frequent to get a bite to eat before work and most of what I overhear from the wait staff has to do with relationships. One was a blossoming romance that included a child from a previous marriage, and yet another was about who would take the kids for the weekend. I had an unfortunate heavy heart that most of the chatter included breakdowns and break-ups. It included devastation and divorce.  I wondered how we could all get back to a place where relationships and partnerships provided us with the sense of support and strength they were meant for.  Where we grew together and genuinely appreciated one another, even if we get pissed off from time to time.

Not to offend, but it’s my personal opinion that no one is in the mood to work really hard for anything anymore. When I sit and read about dating and relationships it appears apparent why we have shifted into a culture of divorce rather than long unions. Article after article on what you are doing wrong with your new relationship and tips or “how-tos” on anything from keeping him guessing to 12 ways to have a happy marriage. But is it really that simple? And if it were that simple why are we in an epic fail?  We learn Why Men Love Bitches or how to Get Married This Year, 365 Days to I Do or  how to Get the Guy, but we forget that this mainstream culture of self-help and fast fixes just sheds light on the problem.  These are just outlines to a very long syllabus.  Relationships take work, dedication, and lots of commitment through the years.

I am not suggesting that every divorce should be stopped.  There are several reasons divorce takes place and the hurt and pain can not be overcome.  Sadness or unhappiness can sometimes be a reason to split.  However, all I am suggesting is that when you take the vow to commit to someone for the rest of your life, that you remember just how much work, patience, perseverance, work, humor, work, respect, and did I mention- work, that it is going to take.  Get angry with me, get really angry with me and explain yourself to death about why your divorce was reasonable.  Many times over I am going to disagree with you.  You get to choose who you marry.  That’s right, it’s a choice.  You get to choose who you will be able to run the business of marriage with for the rest of your life.

The percentage of divorce gets higher with the number of divorces you have. So you have a 40-50 percent chance of getting divorced the first time and a 70 percent chance of divorcing again. The common denominator of that statistic is you.

I first heard of conscious uncoupling when Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow announced their split, as I am sure, most of us did.  Thank goodness the Wall Street Journal took the time to write an article on what was meant by conscious uncoupling.  According to the article the term could, “be new language that could frame the end of a marriage or relationship in my positive light.”  I was happy to hear that definition because basically what we are saying is that we are going to put a pretty frame on a shitty picture.  Break-ups and divorces suck.  Make no mistake about it that they leave people jaded and discouraged.  Society has become a mecca of pretty frames on all sorts of false pictures (Facebook facades).  Now we sit in a society that is ready to approach the hurtful parts of life by being consciously fanciful and politically incorrect.  Distorting the truth doesn’t make it any easier.  Conscious uncoupling is a sham.

Isn’t dating suppose to be a way for us to test the efficacy of marriage?  But if we are a break-up culture, is the desired effect to separate or to sustain the marriage?  And we are a break up culture.  A culture that wants more, faster and easier.  What it took for our grandparents and parents to sustain a marriage, we are just not interested in putting in that kind of effort.  A recent article in Shape magazine discussed that treating your relationship like your job could have positive effects on the happiness and teamwork in your relationship.  The article simply suggests that if we put in as much effort for our relationships as we do in our jobs, we would be in a better position with a better attitude.  I mean when was the last time you neglected your job or just walked in late? You make an attentive effort to be on time, to dress accordingly, to follow the employee handbook.  Maybe you can establish a relationship handbook and overcome the complacency and inflexibility you seem to have in regards to your relationship.  Sorry Gwen, but remarking on your divorce as conscious uncoupling is bullshit.  Talk is cheap.  Cheesy wording is even cheaper.

Individual Music Notes and Collaborative Lack of Commitment

In fifth grade I had a crush on Daniel Johns.  The lead singer of Australian rock band Silverchair had just released Frogstomp which yielded the famous song Tomorrow.  A year later I fell in love with Stephan Jenkins.  Anyone who knew me in middle school knew that Third Eye Blind was a staple in my musical life.  I fell in love with every album that they created after the first.  As my music and dating life both expand, I  understand the arts of both music notes and commitment.

My taste in music developed much like our relationships do.   We check out different albums and listen to new tunes.  We learn what we can enjoy long-term as we go through dating.  It is by these experiences that we better understand ourselves and our relationship needs.  I learned along that way that what makes a great musician and what makes a great band are not created equal.  The musician is the single part in the collaborative effort of the band.  Much like a single person is a part of the collaborative effort in a relationship.  Successful bands that stay together for years work hard to foster the relationships of its members.  Bands break up and so do people. Bands succeed and so do relationships.

It is easy to be single.  When you are a solo musician you have no one whose chords or lines you have to be in sync with.  It takes less effort to be single than to be in an active healthy relationship. However, the rewards are said to have significant positive impacts on your health and your life.  A relationship where you whole-heartedly learn the different music style of your partner and they learn yours.  Where if you work together well enough those two different songs make much better music.  I am not assuming it doesn’t take work to be a solo musician, but my argument is that you learn much more about yourself in the context of collaborative  relationships with others.  You develop the craft to be a better self when you are among others.  Our culture is praising differences and independence; which leads to negative connotations when in a relationship.  Some classics are “ball and chain”, “tied down” or “locked in.”  It’s as if we forget that no one forced us into an exclusive relationship in the first place, but hey, we have to fight something or someone to regain control.

There is a mentality of individuality in our culture.  There is a collaborative lack of commitment.  I recall hearing a friend say this about not including her boyfriend in a recent decision, “It’s my body and I’ll get a tattoo if I want.”  I thought to myself for a second.  That is like the band that set up the play list and one member just decides that they want to begin with another song.  Why are we so afraid to make collaborative decisions?  You don’t loose your individuality by respecting the opinion of your partner.  However, we seem to have become a society that believes the opposite.

Are we purposely becoming a society where individualism trumps hard work and collaboration? It is time we didn’t distinguish between the two.  Relationships are complicated.  They might be complicated because of the different ways people communicate.  Maybe they are difficult because of differences in personality.  But the most predominant reason that relationships are hard is because human behavior is difficult to understand.  We have a ridiculous sense of having to be right and in control instead of understanding the work relationships take and humbly accepting that we can’t always be in control; that we must consider our partners opinion and needs.

Why Texting is Making You Boring and Draining Your Relationship Happiness

How many hours have you gone without texting your significant other?  I assume that most of us will answer something less than 2 hours to this question.  Most of us will never answer anything over 12 hours unless we are working, sleeping or lost our cell phone in the debauchery of our weekend shenanigans.   For the purposes of this article- sleeping and working do not count for giving you high fives on being away from your smart phone.

How many minutes or hours do you go without texting your significant other or a friend back?  Or how many times have you taken awhile to respond to someone and minutes later they send you a ?

How many of us have our phones by our sides when we sleep and eat?  How many of us get anxious at the thought of leaving the phone at home for a whole day?  The answer to these questions: Most of us.  When did we become a society that had to respond immediately or had to be told not to text and drive.  I recognize that we are a society of now and fast, but when it comes to our relationships the notion of right away is destroying the wonders that make relationships special in the first place.

Recall being in high school and waiting for your crush to call.  Your mom or dad would answer the phone and yell into the other room, “It’s for you!”  You would get really excited, your face would get red, your heart would beat and your ridiculous smile would make your cheeks hurt.  You would drag the phone cord as far as you could to get a little privacy.  After a conversation in which minutes felt like hours you would say goodbye.  After getting off the phone you would sit, smile and dream.  You would repeat this for years, but then something happen.  That same boy or girl you were interested in didn’t call, they sent you a text.  Something along the lines of Hi;)  It was enjoyable in the beginning but still not as exciting as getting a call and hanging up.  You didn’t know that someone was into you instantly by way of emoticon.  The excitement lingered for weeks and months not hours or days.     

You see, we never hang up with text messaging, it is this ongoing conversation that literally never has an ending.  When you are in a relationship you never get the “absence makes the heart grow fonder” because you are all up in each others messaging all the time.  Or if you are dating and one party decides to make it have an ending (i.e not texting back) we get confused and wonder if we did something wrong.  Maybe he thought I was mad.  Maybe she doesn’t think I’m funny.  Maybe he doesn’t want me anymore.  We make all these guesses because we actually have no idea how anyone honestly feels anymore because you can only try to interpret through messaging.  The bottom line is our cell phones are ruining our relationship satisfaction because there is no excitement in it anymore.  All the maybe thoughts or the anxiety that you have should only lead to one thought, I am too available which is boring. This isn’t people wanting what they can’t have, this is a genuine human response to want excitement and wonder.

Your boyfriend, girlfriend, or dating partner has access to you anytime- all the time.  But it goes both ways.  We can not have the expectation that people have to get back to us this second.  That people have to text us no matter what they are doing.  Maybe someone is busy.  Or maybe they just don’t want to talk to you right now.  And honestly, why is that second one not okay?  Am I really obligated to talk to everyone who texts me every second that they do it?  There are times when I don’t feel like it.  If we were all honest, we would understand that we all feel like that at some point.  Maybe they had a long day.  Maybe they don’t like you. Maybe they don’t have their phone on them. Maybe they are in a meeting.  Whatever the reason is, if you want to get to the point of someone sticking around and being in awe of you- you have to be a little mysterious.  You have to stop being boring and available.  You also have to remind yourself that even if the other person is going to be offended by not hearing back from you right away, that is on them, not you.  It speaks volumes of the assumptions that they will make throughout the relationship.

I honestly hear this time and time again, “He hasn’t texted me back.”  I then ask, “Well how long has it been?”  Reply, “Well ten minutes.”  My response is always the same.  It has only been ten minutes.  I am not sure what the etiquette is for response time in texting, but there needs to not even be a window.  Whoever the person is, they will see the text, and they will respond to it when they damn well please.  In the end, the person texts back if they want to continue to engage with you. If this is someone who you are starting to date and they don’t text back- that’s called rejection.  I get it and I am not afraid to admit that it has happened to me many times.  Brush it off and move on.  The point is, we need to remind ourselves to talk instead of text.  To be patient instead of anxious.  We need to put the excitement back into our dating lives and relationships by giving someone something to miss and by us missing them.

The Spoil of America- From Midriffs to Twerking

We all remember the year that Britney Spears made the video Hit Me Baby One More Time. We remember because she went from being an innocent singer to a provocative pop princess.  She emerged from her young years on The Mickey Mouse Club.  It shook our view of young women singers.  We remember her because she showed … her midriff and society went crazy for it. Whether it was backlash from angry parents or cheers from supportive fans, there was reaction. And I don’t blame her.  It put her on the map.  She was popular with the younger crowd and encompassed a genre of fun and fearless; much like Madonna transformed tunes in the 80’s with her breast cones and seductive song and dance.

As Britney grew up she needed to obtain a new crowd’s popularity to keep herself on the map, she had to up the ante.  I thought she did it considerably well.  Now less is always more, but the marketing was strategic to shift from innocent to dangerous.  And you know what, it worked.

Welcome 2014, and Miss Miley Cyrus.  Now it’s not her problem that to get the same societal attention that Britney did she had to keep with the times.  Midriffs were a thing of the past and in came twerking. She was aging out of Hannah Montana so her choices became leaving stardom and collecting from the Hannah monument or to continue a career. In a society that is saturating itself with bigger, better, stronger, faster…. we are eating ourselves.

Even in the days when Britney and Christina Aguilera were pop queens their lyrics still brought in sexual expression subtly and power to women’s voices in creative ways.  Christina was a Genie in a Bottle and you had to rub her the right way.  Take it the way you like, but wanting one last chance (hit me baby) and genies in bottles discretely sang messages.  Lyrics about popping molly and Lady Gaga‘s Do What You Want with my body scream messages that make me wonder: have we lost (pardon me) our fucking minds.  We are spoiling America. We are doing a very specific job of spoiling the women in America.  Justin Timberlake emerged from the same early TV show as Britney and Christina.  His popularity began in the boy band NSync and still continues today, but when was the last time he had to show his midriff let alone twerk to get our attention? Let me answer that for you, never.

So where did this all come from?  I rented the movie Don Jon last evening.  I got more than I bargained for but I don’t offend easily.  So my intrigue had me watch it.  I believe Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s intention when he created the film was to explore sex and porn addiction. 40 days and 40 nights explored the same kind of addiction (although it did it subtly).  He created a story line that breaks the main characters porn/sex addiction by reminding him that overindulgence is bad and pornography is not real sex anymore. The character had a better connection with porn then he did having sex with his girlfriend.  Step in Julianne Moore‘s character who is an older woman with a sense of humor stemmed from a sad situation.  (The movie was all over the place but that is besides the point.)  She sets the tone for the change.  Which brings up my next point: The problem with pornography.  The same thing that happen when shifting from midriff to twerking took place in the porn industry.  Missionary sex began with mixing it up with a new position or two. It was scandalous for the mail man to come over to a single woman’s house, enter the house, then enter the woman.  Then …. literally all hell breaks loose.  In comes the threesome.  Because when did having sex with one person at a time not sexually satisfy us? I will tell you why.  We live in a fantasy world of expectations that literally don’t exist and they are brought to you by: the media.  But we all buy into them because we are an overindulged, unsatisfied, spoiled society.  Woman may feel the need to submit to the ridiculous standards.

In a society that is saturating itself with bigger, better, stronger, faster…. we are eating ourselves.  I just hope it saturates itself at some point.  How are we going to teach our children to be conscious in a society that is so unconscious?